Where can you save the most teaching English?

A TEFL qualification is your ticket to new cultures, countries, and all kinds of exciting experiences. Most people hoping to teach English abroad are looking for a new adventure but is it also possible to save money on a teacher’s salary and enjoy a new country and way of life?

You absolutely can! It’s easier to do in some countries than others, which is why we’ve put together this post about the top countries for saving money while teaching English for those of you aiming to squirrel away a decent amount of your wages.

How much you can save obviously depends on your lifestyle but if you’re needing some tips and tricks for saving then for we recommend checking out our 12 great tips for saving money!

Note: With the exception of the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the estimated earning potential is listed for those without prior EFL teaching experience – teachers with a few years of experience under their belt can expect to earn more.

UAE and Saudi Arabia


How much can you earn: $3,000 – $4,500+ (£2350–3500) per month (tax free)
Requirements: 2+ years teaching experience, 120+ hour TEFL qualification, BA degree

Tax-free salaries and excellent benefits are the main lures for EFL teachers to these oil-rich Middle Eastern countries. Most positions come with accommodation (often in a foreigner’s compound kitted out with great sports facilities), flights and health insurance. Combined with the possibility of living somewhere with few options for spending money on leisure and entertainment you can save a considerable amount in a short space of time teaching in these countries.

The money is great but anyone thinking of working in a strict Islamic country has to be aware of all that entails – most teachers in these countries are motivated by the high salaries and find themselves only staying a year or two. Travelling within the area isn’t easy if you’re not Muslim so it doesn’t tend to attract teachers with an appetite for exploring. Saudi Arabia completely bans alcohol and to work there you also need to provide a statement of religion (no atheists allowed). For women the situation can be particularly challenging – only this year was the ban on women driving lifted in Saudi Arabia.

There are few options for newly-qualified inexperienced teachers, however – most positions advertised request at least two years teaching experience alongside a BA degree and a TEFL qualification.



How much can you earn: 10,000-18,000 RMB (£1100–2000) per month
Requirements: 120+ hour TEFL qualification, BA degree

We say it all the time but it bears repeating – China’s a great place to TEFL! With benefit packages including accommodation, airfare allowance, health insurance, and competitive salaries, newly-qualified teachers can earn and save well in China.

As we recently covered in our blog post, Why you should TEFL in China, you can expect the cost of living in major cities to be around 5,000RMB a month but as little as 2,000RMB away from these areas. It’s cheap to eat out and travel in the country so it’s possible to save and enjoy experiencing the culture at the same time – perfect, right?

There’s a huge demand for teachers in China so there’s no shortage of work for teachers who have just gained their TEFL qualification but have no prior teaching experience.

South Korea


How much you can earn: 1.9 to 2.4 million won (£1300 – 1650) per month
Requirements: 120+ hour TEFL qualification, BA degree

Did you know that South Korean government spends more money on English education than any other government in the world? English is considered essential for adults and children alike and around 8 out of 10 children study English after school – to go to university in the country students need to have a certain level of English proficiency. There’s plenty of work to be found for those looking to teach in South Korea.

Accommodation, flights and other benefits tend to be included in contracts and it can be possible to save upwards of £800 a month!

Most teachers find work in state schools through the government-run EPIK scheme or private language schools called hagwons, where trade is booming. Over the years hagwons have developed a reputation for exploiting teachers (you can find plenty of horror stories online) and while the situation is getting better it’s still very important to keep your wits about you – there are plenty of hagwons out there that are great to work for!

Make sure to ask the recruiter or employer for the contact details of a teacher who currently works there so you can ask them about working conditions and get advice. If the person you’re dealing with refuses to pass on details then take that as a big warning sign and proceed with caution – if at all. We have a whole post about how to avoid TEFL scams and bad employers, which is essential reading for anyone hoping to secure their first TEFL job.



How much you can earn: 220,000 – 280,000 yen (£1500-1900) per month
Requirements: 120+ hour TEFL qualification, BA degree

You can save a good amount teaching English in Japan but you do need to be more frugal than you would in China or South Korea. Japan offers higher wages than many other countries in Asia but living costs are high, so keep that in mind.

Japan has a similar government-run scheme as South Korea, called JET. Salaries for the JET programme start at 280,000 yen per month and rise with each year you stay on with the programme. JET participants teach alongside a native Japanese teacher, so for those who don’t feel quite confident enough to be entirely responsible for classes it can be a good start to a teaching career.

Flights tend to be included in teaching contracts as well as visa fees but you will likely have to pay for your own accommodation (many employers will offer assistance with finding a place, however) and health insurance may be deducted from your salary.



How much you can earn: £10-20 per lesson, more with experience
Requirements: 120+ hour TEFL qualification

Perhaps you’re not looking to move abroad just yet – or maybe ever – and you’re wondering if teaching English is something you can do at home. It’s true that the TEFL market in the UK is very competitive, with most positions going to highly experienced EFL teachers, but you can teach online and work from the comfort of your own home! The online TEFL industry is rapidly growing so there’s plenty of work to go round and high returns for talented teachers who learn how to market themselves.

Established online teachers can command high hourly rates but even for those just getting started it can be a great additional income. If you’re looking to save some extra cash alongside your current job online teaching is a flexible option that you can fit around your existing commitments – and it’s definitely possible to build up a full-time income.

Most people get started by teaching for an online platform such as italki or DaDa and as they build up their experience develop their own website and source students themselves – we have an Advanced TEFL course focused on online teaching that guides you through how to do this.

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